10 Lesser-Known Art Exhibits & Museums In Singapore With Free Entry To Visit In 2021

Art exhibits in Singapore

If you ever find yourself in a rut for things to do that don’t include the usual hiking or picnics, here are some lesser-known art exhibits and museums you can visit for free.

Plus, all of them are air-conditioned, so there’s no need to worry about wet weather contingency plans or braving the heat and humidity.  

1. NUS Museum – Traditional Chinese artworks dating back to the Qing Dynasty

Fistful of Colours exhibit
Image credit: Visit Singapore

Being the oldest university museum in Singapore, the NUS Museum boasts over 8,000 artefacts and artworks from all over Southeast Asia. 

If you’re a history buff, the two exhibitions currently ongoing at the NUS Museum will be perfect for you: 

  • Fistful of Colours: Moments of Chinese Cosmopolitanism
  • Wishful Images: When Microhistories Take Form

The former explores the social history of Chinese artworks from way back during the Qing Dynasty to the present day, while the latter is a joint attempt to capture post-war Asia through various art mediums such as Chinese ink and wood-print.  

Exhibition period:
Fistful of Colours: Moments of Chinese Cosmopolitanism: Now till 31st December 2022
Wishful Images: When Microhistories Take Form: Until further notice
Address: 50 Kent Ridge Crescent, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119279
Opening hours: Tue – Sat 10AM-6PM (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)

NUS Museum website

2. Art Now – Bearbricks, wax figures & eccentric art pieces

Image credit:
Art Now Sg

From bearbricks to IG photo spots and wax figures of renowned figures, Art Now is a contemporary art gallery that combines elements of fine art with pop culture to intrigue visitors with its unconventional exhibits. 

Pose and “meet” famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Van Gogh in the form of hyperrealistic wax figures that will have Madame Tussauds quaking. 

Image credit:

Apart from quirky art pieces and sculptures, Art Now also doubles up as a retail store where visitors are welcome to purchase artworks, fashion pieces and furniture. 

Address: 328 North Bridge Road, #02-32, Raffles Hotel Arcade, Singapore 188719
Opening hours: 12PM-7PM, Daily

Art Now website

3. Modern Women of the Republic – Chinese fashion pieces from the late 1800s-1970s

Image credit:
Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

Who run the world? Girls. Modern Women of the Republic: Fashion and Progress in China and Singapore interprets the concept of “modern woman” in different historical periods through artefacts and photographs collected in China and Singapore from the late 1800s to the 1970s. 

Traditional Chinese shoes worn by women with bound feet
Image credit: @gohchoobeng

The exhibit is inspired by fashion trends that played a huge role in the 19th century, with the rise of colonialism and changes in the social roles of women of the time.

Apart from the Modern Women of the Republic exhibit, admire Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall’s colonial-style architecture and its tribute to the 1911 Revolution. The villa was even gazetted as a national monument in 1994. 

Exhibition period: Now till 12th December 2021
Address: 12 Tai Gin Road, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore, 327874 Singapore
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 10AM-5PM (Closed on Mondays)

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall website

4. Susan Weil: Now, Then and Always – Bold & abstract art pieces

Image credit:

In true girl power fashion, American artist Susan Weil pushed the boundaries of Abstract Expressionism, a male-dominated art movement. Following her journey as an artist, the pieces featured in Susan Weil: Now, Then and Always span from the 1940s to 2020 and celebrate her breaking of gender barriers. 

Admire art that draws inspiration from Weil’s personal life, nature, and literature.
Image credit: Gillman Barracks

From landscape pieces inspired by nature to figures cut out of flexiglass, the exhibit’s pieces are a testament to her long-standing journey as an artist.

Exhibition period: Now till 20th November 2021
Address: 5 Lock Road, #01-05 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108933
Opening hours: Tue – Fri 11AM-6PM | Sat 11AM-7PM (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)

Gillman Barracks website

5. Through the Eyes of a Child – Childhood memories from the 80s

Quek Hong Shin with his illustrations at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Image credit: @quekie

Held at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) along with the popular SINGAPO人 exhibit, Through the Eyes of a Child: Art by Quek Hong Shin is a nostalgic exhibition for all the 80s and 90s kids. 

By recreating icons and experiences like Samsui women and life in HDB blocks, artist Quek Hong Shin utilises national symbols to tell his stories as a child growing up in the 80s. 

Pro tip: Head up to the rooftop of SCCC for chill hang out spots, photo opportunities and views of the CBD and harbour.
Image credit: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

Exhibition period: Now till 26th December 2021
Address: 1 Straits Boulevard, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Singapore 018906
Opening hours: 10AM-8PM, Daily

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre website

6. Sikhs in Singapore – Interactive exhibits & educational artefacts

Image credit: Public Service Division

Hailing from the Punjab region of India in the late 19th century, some of the first Sikhs stepped foot into our little red dot to join the Sikh Police Contingent – one of the first police contingents in Singapore.

Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold is the first-ever exhibition held by the Indian Heritage Centre on Sikh heritage. 

Try your hand at learning bhangra steps through this interactive exhibit

Image credit: Indian Heritage Centre

Discover the lesser-known stories of the Sikh community through artefacts, documentaries and interactive displays that celebrate their contributions to both early and present-day Singapore. 

Exhibition period: Now till 30th January 2022
Admission: Free for all Singaporeans & PRs
Address: 5 Campbell Lane, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore 209924
Opening hours: Tue – Thu 10AM-7PM | Fri – Sat 10AM-8PM | Sun & PH 10AM-4PM (Closed on Mondays)

Indian Heritage Centre website

7. #SGFASHIONNOW – Featuring contemporary fashion in SG

Image credit:
Angela Chiu

A collaboration between LASALLE College of the Arts’ School of Fashion and the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF), #SGFASHIONNOW is the Asian Civilisations Museum’s first-ever exhibition on contemporary local fashion. 

Image credit:
Time Taken to Make a Dress

Basic wear can step aside as here, you’ll find snazzy designs that pay homage to how fashion in Singapore has evolved over the years, with pieces inspired by cheongsams and Chinese opera costumes.

Exhibition period: Now till 19th December 2021
Admission: Free for all Singaporeans & PRs
Address: 1 Empress Place, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 179555
Opening hours: Sat – Thur 10AM-7PM | Fri 10AM-9PM 

Asian Civilisations Museum website

8. Botanical Art Gallery – Dreamy gallery with illustrations of local flora and fauna

Image credit:

If you find yourself wanting to explore more of Singapore Botanic Gardens after having picnics in front of the colonial houses at Gallop Extension, head to the Botanical Art Gallery to discover an extensive collection of floral illustrations. 

The Botanical Art Gallery has over 2,000 pieces of artworks. These showcase plant species native to Singapore that have since been deemed locally extinct.
Image credit: @michelesgp

Apart from learning about the history of flora and fauna in Singapore, learn the different skills involved in botanical illustration and try creating your own little art piece. 

Address: 7 Gallop Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 258965
Opening hours: 9AM-6PM, Daily

Botanical Art Gallery website

9. Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore – Experimental media exhibits by students

Image credit:

There’s no shortage of art museums in Singapore, with many containing long-standing exhibits. If you’ve exhausted your list of museums to visit, head over to the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (ICAS) for a whole new experience. 

Being a college museum, ICAS’ exhibits are constantly changing to keep up with graduation shows and curriculum-based exhibits. From experimental media pieces to performing arts exhibits, ICAS features work from both LASALLE students and international artists alike. 

Graduation shows featuring student-led work are frequently held here
Image credit: @myutsnap

The gallery currently has two ongoing exhibits:

  • Tropical Lab 15: Interdependencies
  • Cornucopia – Of Abundance And Giving By Delia Prvački

Tropical Lab 15: Interdependencies has art pieces ranging from paintings of blown-up passport photos of immigrants to AR apps that’ll transport visitors into the home of an artist. 

Cornucopia on the other hand was inspired by Greek mythology and serves as a social commentary of nature and life amid the pandemic.

Exhibition period:
Tropical Lab 15: Interdependencies: Now till 16th October 2021
Cornucopia – Of Abundance And Giving By Delia Prvački: Now till 30th October 2021
Address: 1 McNally Street, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore 187940
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 12PM-7PM (Closed on Sundays, Public Holidays & College closure) 

Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore website

10. Wu Guanzhong – Ink work and modern Chinese art

Image credit:
National Gallery Singapore

A pivotal figure in modern Chinese art history, Wu Guanzhong was known to be the “founder” of modern Chinese art and an art educator who had great influence in developing Asian modernism. 

Image credit:
SG Magazine

Highlighting his role as an art educator, the exhibition steers away from featuring Wu Guanzhong’s own works. Instead, it features artworks by his students, placing the focus on his actual artistic influence. 

From handwritten notes to paintings done on field trips by his students, this exhibit highlights the lengths Wu Guanzhong took to take teaching out of the textbook and into real-life experiences. 

Admission: Free for all Singaporeans & PRs
Exhibition period: Now till 10th April 2022
Address: 1 St Andrew’s Road, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957
Opening hours: 10AM-7PM, Daily

National Gallery Singapore website

Free entry to lesser-known art exhibits

Find your inner art history buff and grab a friend or partner to check out these lesser-known art exhibits and museums. And aside from not needing to spend any cash on an artsy day out, you’ll be able to learn something new in the process.

Check out other museums and galleries in Singapore: 

Cover image adapted from: Art Now Sg, @clarissatyj

Priscilla Tan

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